Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 58.21
Liaison Julie Hopper
Submission Date July 29, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Southern California
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 2.00 Elias Platte-Bermeo
Sustainability Program Assistant
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area:
226 Acres

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds:
Area (double-counting is not allowed)
Area managed organically, without the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides 0 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses selected chemicals only when needed 212.15 Acres
Area managed using conventional, chemical-based landscape management practices 0 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 212.15 Acres

A brief description of any land excluded from the area of managed grounds:

The value for "Total area of managed grounds" excludes roughly 13 acres of USC's Health Sciences Campus technically owned by the university but which only contain housing, parking lots, or offices.

Percentage of grounds managed organically:

A brief description of the organic landscape management program:

Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an IPM program:

A copy of the IPM plan or program:

A brief description of the IPM program:

At the time of submission, there is no formal, codified IPM plan or program governing USC's landscape management. However, the aspects of an IPM plan are being implemented by the various teams that manage USC's grounds. Mike Wallich, USC Arborist And Landscape Project Specialist, confirmed that the totality of USC’s managed grounds are managed using the four IPM principles.

When a pest and host are identified, these teams first work to determine conditions that led to infestation and make necessary adjustments to mitigate the problem. They prioritize the use of biological pest control methods and mechanical means (natural predators, aeration, trimming, removal), then use the mildest pest control option possible. Selected chemical pesticides are only used when absolutely necessary.

The USC Grounds team prioritizes the use of organic fertilizers and biological pest control techniques as much as possible. When pests are identified, USC Grounds determines whether a biological pest control option exists, such as introducing a natural predatory insect for the pest. If no such option exists, USC grounds prioritizes the mildest available pest control product, such as insecticidal soap and natural oils like Neem Oil. If these techniques are ineffective at controlling the pest problem, USC Grounds may use “Caution” labeled pesticides and foliar sprays, and/or will consult specialists to determine how best to control the pest. This may involve learning the life cycle of the pest, when it is most active, and what part of the plant it attacks. USC Grounds is committed to understanding the physical conditions that make plants susceptible to pests -- such as soil compaction and irrigation -- and is committed to taking the appropriate steps to change physical conditions through soil aeration, trimming, changes in watering patterns, and other methods to mitigate the problem.

The university's Arborist oversees implementation of these practices for campus trees, the university's Athletic supervisor does so for sporting fields, and the university's Landscape supervisors do so for campus ornamental plants.

A brief description of the institution's approach to plant stewardship:

On USC's grounds, drought-tolerant landscaping has been expanded wherever possible, and centrally controlled and “smart” drip irrigation systems are increasing watering efficiency.

Three native plant test gardens on the University Park Campus help USC understand ideal conditions and required maintenance for various native species.

43% savings in water usage has been realized from landscapes that incorporated or converted to drought-tolerant foliage. Project managers have been trained and advised to incorporate drought-tolerant and native plants in all new landscaping.

A brief description of the institution's approach to hydrology and water use:

Six separate filters and deep dry wells at USC Village treat rain runoff before sending it to recharge the groundwater aquifer. USC Village’s system can treat and infiltrate 26,000 cubic feet of rain runoff and is an important component of USC’s resilience planning.

Approximately 40 systems have been installed at UPC since 2000, and all construction that adds or changes more than 500 square feet of hardscape must capture, treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff.

A brief description of the institution's approach to landscape materials management and waste minimization:

All uncontaminated green waste is collected and hauled away by Republic Services and Universal Waste Systems, and is ultimately composted at off-campus composting facilities.

A brief description of the institution's approach to energy-efficient landscape design:

A brief description of other sustainable landscape management practices employed by the institution:

USC’s University Park Campus has become the first campus in the United States to be certified as a “green zone” by the American Green Zone Alliance, an independent education, training and certification agency. To earn this certification, the USC Grounds team transitioned gas-powered equipment to electric equipment. The American Green Zone Alliance estimates that USC’s investment in this transition to new equipment will result in annual reductions of 89 tons of greenhouse gases and 15 tons of smog-forming exhaust annually.

Website link: https://news.usc.edu/185057/usc-battery-powered-leaf-blowers-university-park-campus-green-zone/

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management program is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.